As tons of plastic materials continue to be removed from Greek seas in an effort to clean them, some fishermen are being paid €200 per month to recycle waste from their nets.
With support from Greek and non-Greek donors alike, the Athens-based organization Enaleia is leading the initiative — which aims to make fishing more sustainable in Greece.
Enaleia founder Eleutherios Arapakis and his team have created a program which gives financial incentives to encourage fishermen not to throw waste back into the sea, but rather to keep it for recycling.
In an interview with Euronews, Arapakis said that many fishermen have already altered their habits — in just a matter of months.
“Even if they start doing it for the money, there are not many, but soon they’ll like it,” Arapakis said. “I was talking to a captain when he told me that in the old times he used to throw his plastic coffee cup in the sea but now he throws it in the trash can. And I reminded him that this was just six months ago, not old times”
Large amounts of plastic waste and ghost nets are removed from Greece’s waters on a monthly basis, including in May, when volunteer divers from the organization Healthy Seas removed two tons of plastic nets from a northern Greek seabed.
But Enaleia doesn’t just remove waste — it systematically recycles it.
“Nets, ropes and more are sent abroad where they recycle them and convert them to socks, bathing suits and other useful things,” Arapakis said. “Plastics, tins and other waste are put to a recycling line we have created with a certified company.”
Arapakis and his team have already been formally recognized for their groundbreaking effort.
Last month, the United Nations Environment department seleced Arapakis as one of five European finalists in the Young Champions of the Earth awards. The awards aim to celebrate and support individuals between 18-30 who have outstanding potential to create a positive environmental impact.
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